New York Republicans tabbed Nassau County Legislator Mazi Melesa Pilip to run for the state’s 3rd Congressional District following the ouster of former Rep. George Santos (R-NY).

Pilip is an Ethiopian-born Israeli-American who served in the Israel Defense Force’s Paratroopers Brigade.

She immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia when she was 12 years old.

“Pilip seemed to confirm news reports that she would be the GOP’s candidate after a behind-the-scenes vetting process that came with some surprises, like the fact that Pilip is a registered Democrat,” City & State New York reports.

“She has also been a registered Democrat since 2012 but ran for the Nassau County Legislature on the Republican ballot line,” Wikipedia noted.

New York’s 3rd Congressional District will be decided in a February 13th special election between Pilip and former Democrat Rep. Tom Suozzi.

“Mazi Melesa Pilip stands out as a truly exceptional candidate and will make the hardworking families of New York’s 3rd district proud. Mazi is a shining example of the American Dream, and her extraordinary story reflects just that. As a paratrooper, mom, and local elected official, Mazi knows how to lead,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-NY) said.

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City & State New York reports:

A level of due diligence performed by New York Republicans was necessary after the Santos debacle where, aside from the federal charges levied against him, he managed to gain support without any details of his background being vetted.

Suozzi was announced as the Democratic Party’s candidate after state party leaders felt he had the best chance – and after he capitulated to Gov. Kathy Hochul and promised to run an overtly pro-choice campaign.

The 3rd Congressional District had been singled out as one of two swing districts on Long Island after a disappointing electoral return for Democrats in federal and local elections in recent years. Complicating things slightly is the news that new district lines will be drawn throughout the state following a bombshell New York Court of Appeals decision on Tuesday that favored Democrats.

Obviously, that doesn’t affect the February election, but it will add color to the successful candidate’s reelection attempt. Here are five things to know about Pilip, the GOP pick.

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POLITICO added:

Following the extraordinary saga surrounding George Santos, one of the top two GOP favorites to replace the recently-ousted representative is a registered Democrat — despite having twice been elected as a Republican to the Nassau County Legislature.

Mazi Melesa Pilip, a pro-Israel, Black, Orthodox Jew who served in the IDF, is on the Nassau County GOP’s shortlist for the seat vacated after Santos’ expulsion.

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But public records uncovered by POLITICO show Pilip has enrolled as a Democrat since 2012.

Pilip currently holds office as a Republican and ran on the GOP ticket for the Nassau County legislator in 2021 and 2023.

Both Pilip and Joe Cairo, the county’s GOP chair, did not respond to numerous requests for comment, including through allies. But the Nassau County Board of Elections’ spokesperson called Playbook on Pilip’s behalf and confirmed she is an enrolled Democrat.

Despite her party enrollment, Pilip has championed GOP-friendly causes like low property taxes and enhanced support for law enforcement during her time in office. She has also been staunchly opposed to housing development in her district on Long Island’s North Shore.

Pilip, a firebrand and outspoken supporter of Israel, is a popular figure in Great Neck, where she lives with her seven children. Lawns across the heavily-Jewish bedroom community don signs with her name, and she boasts a large presence on community Instagram and Facebook pages.

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